Are we actually loving others? Sometimes, we might think we are acting in love towards others, but we should always measure our actions by the descriptions of love that we find in the Bible.
First of all, Jesus gave us an important admonition about how to love. In John 13:34, Jesus commanded, “just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” He even went a step further and said that we would be recognized as His disciples, if we have love for one another.
These words of Jesus beg the question, “How did Jesus love?” Some key words of description might include humbly, sacrificially, compassionately, and patiently. Jesus humbled Himself to come to earth and live a perfect life in our place. He gave up the splendor of heaven in exchange for the lowliness of earth.
Jesus demonstrated compassion as He reached out to people in need and patience as He taught His disciples. He consistently gave of Himself in order to love others. So, in one sense, loving others simply means focusing on other people rather than focusing on ourselves. When we are self-focused, it is nearly impossible to even see the people around us, let alone love them like Jesus would.
Another key biblical passage about love is I Corinthians 13 in which we are given a lengthy description of love. Through the writing of the apostle Paul, God communicates to us in this chapter that love is patient and kind. It does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful. It does not rejoice at wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.
If we are going to love in a biblical way, we must follow Jesus’ example of putting others ahead of ourselves, and we must measure our love by the standards of Scripture, including I Corinthians 13.
Failing to act with compassion and humility is not loving. Focusing on ourselves, insisting that we are right, and failing to treat others with kindness do not fall under the I Corinthians 13 guidelines for love. Neither do being resentful or taking joy in another’s misfortune. At first glance, we may not think that any of these descriptions fit us, but we need to honestly evaluate whether or not any of these attitudes or actions creep into our lives at times.
We can claim to be loving people, but we cannot be our own judges in that regard. The Bible is our standard, and we must consistently ask ourselves if our attitudes and actions match the example of Jesus and measure up to the standards of God’s Word. We can use the Bible as a litmus test for the authenticity of our love.